MADURAI: The Chief Justice of Madras High Court cannot unilaterally transfer judicial staff from one district to another under Rule 40(a) of the Tamil Nadu Judicial Ministerial Service Rules, a Division Bench of the High Court has ruled.
Allowing a writ petition filed by a ‘sheristadar,’ the Division Bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice R. Subbiah said the Service Rules contemplate that transfers could be ordered by the ‘High Court.’
As per Article 216 of the Constitution, ‘High Court’ means the Chief Justice and his companion judges. Therefore, decisions on transfers could be taken only by the Full Court (all Judges), the Bench added.
Writing the judgement for the Bench, Mr. Justice Dharma Rao went on to state that the Full Court could constitute a committee of judges to decide on transfers and its decision could be treated as the decision of the High Court itself.
The judges also directed the High Court Registry not to act upon anonymous petitions received against the judicial staff.
Otherwise, it would impair the performance of the staff besides shaking their confidence in the entire system.
They made it clear that any complaint against the court staff should bear the signature of the complainant and true postal address so as to call upon him to give a statement or adduce evidence in support of his contentions.
In the present case, the petitioner was transferred from the Tuticorin District Court to Ramanathapuram court on September 19, 2006, through a unilateral decision of the then Chief Justice on the basis of an anonymous letter.
Pointing out that the petitioner was not provided an opportunity to give an explanation to the anonymous letter; the judges said that the transfer turned out to be punitive as he lost his chance of being promoted as personal assistant to Tuticorin District Judge.
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